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California State University, Long Beach

General Education: The Value of a Liberal Education

Why is General Education (GE) such a large part of my degree?

College students all across the United States complete a GE program toward becoming a well-educated person. General Education is the key to a most successful future. A well-planned GE program of study provides students with the skills they will need to excel in whatever discipline(s) they choose to pursue. Employers are hiring and promoting people who have more than just knowledge in a discipline; they are looking for people who can do things like write and speak clearly, solve problems, work well in diverse teams, and make ethical decisions. These are some of the essential skills of GE. As a successful student, one of your responsibilities is to proactively seek out information to work with advisors to plan to take a set of GE courses that best suits your current interests and future directions. This site offers much of the information needed to build your best GE program.

Why do Students Have to Take GE Courses?

Students may enter college with a specific major in mind, but no matter what they will call themselves professionally, EVERYONE needs some of the same skills to be a well-educated person. Your education is not just about you. Others have a stake in your education, too. EMPLOYERS will expect you to solve problems and make good decisions using complex information, to act ethically, to contribute to a team of diverse people, and to communicate your ideas effectively in writing and in speech. You are also becoming a citizen of our diverse democracy and of the world. Fellow citizens in each COMMUNITY for which you are a member will expect you to contribute productively to society and to make responsible decisions.

Leading experts in higher education as well as many large companies who seek to employ the best college graduates have worked together to define the most desirable skills. These skills are the outcome statements below. Notice that ‘knowledge’ is only one aspect of the most desirable skills.

What are the Essential GE Student Learning Outcomes?

Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World

Achieved through study in the Sciences and Mathematics, Social Sciences, Humanities, Histories, Languages, and the Arts

Intellectual and Practical Skills, including

  • Written Communication (WRIT)
  • Oral Communication (ORAL)
  • Critical Thinking (CRIT)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (QUANT)
  • Information Literacy and Technology Literacy (ILTL)
  • Teamwork (TEAM)
  • Creativity, Inquiry, and Discovery (CRE/INQ/DIS)

Personal and Civic Responsibility, including

  • Global Competencies (GLOBAL)
  • Intercultural Competence (cultural values/traditions-U.S.) (US-CULTURE)
  • Ethical Reasoning and Social Responsibility (ETHIC)
  • Self-Understanding (SELF)
  • Foundation and Skills for Lifelong Learning (LIFELONG)

Integrative Learning, including

  • Synthesis and Interdisciplinary Methods of Inquiry (INTDISC)